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Food, Hospitality and Creativity Define New York’s Horned Dorset Inn & Artists' Colony

Seasoned hoteliers blend boutique lodgings, a celebrated French restaurant and support for emerging artists in historic Central New York

LEONARDSVILLE, NEW YORK— 2018 …  Since 1977, in-the-know Central New Yorkers have sought out reservations at the Horned Dorset Inn, http://www.horneddorsetinn.com/ , which is set in a gorgeously restored turn-of-the-century building on Route 8 in Leonardsville. Originally known for its classic French cuisine in the style of Julia Child, the restaurant was one of the area’s culinary pioneers. “We were always doing French cuisine and we always used the garden and the family-owned farm to supply the restaurant,” co-owner Kingsley Wratten told The Post-Standard. "It was farm to table, but we didn't know it.”

The restaurant was the brainchild of its three co-founders, each an established artist, who wanted to create a gathering place centered around good food and wine, intriguing conversation and live music. Wratten is a painter and his wife, Roberta, is a musician. The other co-owner, Harold Davies, is a writer and poet. Kingsley and Harold first met during college in the sixties, and trio also own the Horned Dorset Primavera, in Rincon, Puerto Rico. The properties' names are a nod to one of Harold and Kingsley's former projects: sheep farming.

From that single dining room in 1977, the Horned Dorset has expanded over the last several decades to include 6 buildings within the historic Wheeler Block Complex, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The complex includes an Italianate-style residence, bank building, commercial center and carriage house, and the Historic Register calls it “historically significant for the many roles that it played in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century development of the tiny rural hamlet of Leonardsville.”

In 2011, the owners formed a private foundation to support their vision of the Horned Dorset Colony, a non-profit organization that hosts writers, music composers and visual artists in month-long summer residency programs. The inn’s 10 rooms are open to both regular hotel guests as well as the artists-in-residence, and all proceeds from the inn go towards scholarships and financial assistance for the artist colony.

In 2012, Aaron Wratten, son of Roberta and Kingsley, took over as Executive Chef at the Horned Dorset Inn. Aaron trained at École Grégoire-Ferrandi in Paris and has worked at top-tier Manhattan restaurants like Aureole and Restaurant Daniel, as well as at Horned Dorset Primavera, where he was Executive Chef. He is joined by his wife and business manager Maddalena Molli, who is originally from Rome, Italy. Although the menu still has beloved classics like veal sweetbreads and lamb loin, he has also added lighter, more sophisticated dishes that reflect his international experience, such as halibut “Portugaise,” warm charred octopus and a Moroccan-style tagine that mixes seven different vegetable preparations.

Each member of the Horned Dorset team brings his or her own imaginative spark to the endeavor. "It's all cross-connected," Roberta Wratten told the Post-Standard. "There's lots of creativity. We thought good food was a good match to that artistic creativity, and we came up with a place for good food and good conversation where you can draw inspiration and collaboration."

The property also includes 300 acres of walking trails, an apple orchard and waterfalls, and is within a 30-minute drive of Cooperstown attractions such as the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Glimmer Glass Opera Festival.

For press inquiries contact:  
Martha Morano, Morano Public Relations, 212-860-5566, Martha@moranopr.com
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